Value-add is one of the main principles Alpha JWC Ventures holds in working with portfolio companies. The firm helps portfolio companies grow by understanding the gaps they have in their products and organizational structures and working together to close those gaps. Felicia Natalie, our Value Creation Manager, has the expertise in human capital and organisation design, and she’s responsible for identifying what kind of problems the portfolio companies have in terms of human resource, and how to solve the problem.
What motivates Felicia to do her work with the early-stage startups and founders is that doing so could be a way for her to experiment and learn first hand from multiple cases and scenarios. Her role gives her the chance to identify and solve new problems on a daily basis, and in a sense, it’s like detective work. She would need to get a benchmark (possibly from other companies she’s worked with before), bits and pieces of information from multiple sources, and come up with the solutions, which in turn will be a benchmark for future cases with different companies. Through this process, she becomes a part of the driving force which is essential for the company’s growth, which in turn gives her a sense of meaningfulness in this role.
According to Felicia, to work as a Human Capital professional, especially in the tech industry, first and foremost, you must have negotiation skill — it’s about how you can package what you want to offer so the other party would agree to your terms.
On top of that, understanding of technology is also crucial: what is technology, how can technology improve the business, its frameworks, and how to measure the performance of tech teams.
Another important skill to have is knowing how to learn. If you’re in a position where you have to solve a problem but you have no experience how, you have to deep dive into the problem first. Some people prefer using trial-and-error methods, but Felicia notes that such an approach requires mindfulness to see the end-point where the experiment ends and learnings can be concluded.
Growing up, Felicia has always been interested in learning about human beings. It is reflected in her undergraduate study in Marketing & Psychology at Singapore Management University, continued by a postgraduate course in Psychology at Melbourne University. However, Felicia admits that sometimes what she learned in school (especially cognitive psychology) is not applicable in her HR work. Nevertheless, the knowledge and framework are always applicable. In between her work, Felicia is also actively learning more about cognitive science and machine learning as she found out that she has a knack for deep science and statistics.
Before joining the firm, Felicia had her fair share of working in tech startups. There are some interesting insights that she found during her journey, particularly the ones related to her role as an HR. Firstly, Felicia saw that a lot of times startups crumble from the inside because they started with the wrong people; for example, as simple as having a homogeneous team. Secondly, prepare for failure, because you will fail. The key is to learn from each failure and learn to know whether it’s a point that you could still improve, or you have to pivot from. Lastly, if you are thinking of finding investors to fund your startups, you have to look at your products from the investor’s perspective.
And now, almost two years in with Alpha JWC Ventures, Felicia came up with several takeaways she would like to share to those who have just started their journey in Human Capital. The first one is to always observe and listen before doing anything — identify yourself, who you are dealing with, and then act accordingly. The second thing is to pick your battle wisely; do not waste your time and energy by trying to change something you have no control over.